Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pieces Of A Dream

As a companion post to an earlier one that takes a look at some of the tucked-away gems you can find in some of those older Fantastic Four stories, it seems appropriate to highlight some of the fans from the book's letters pages who went on to greater roles at Marvel, such as Roy Thomas, Dave Cockrum, et al. Thomas and his fellow soon-to-be Marvel staffers weren't the only fans who were FF "letterhacks" (those fans who had their letters regularly published in the letters pages); in fact, it's interesting to see, out of the presumably hundreds of letters Fantastic Four received, how often the "editor" published letters from the same people who had written and been published in earlier issues. Since the pages were often as popular as the story itself, I can only assume an effort was made to strike a balance that featured both enthusiasm, suggestions, and the occasional criticism--but perhaps there was also an effort to bring some familiarity to these pages, as well.

Most of the letters we'll see here typically gush with praise for the FF story as well as Marvel in general, which fit right in with the image that Marvel seemed to want to project at the time. Yet it's also interesting to see what things the writers wanted to make a point of bringing to Marvel's attention. Don McGregor, for instance, has a repeated desire to see certain characters get married. Dave Cockrum will make an offhand comment or two about the art on a particular issue, yet also takes a great interest in all the concepts being explored in different titles. Steve Gerber is, as you might expect, all over the map, jumping from this to that, and not exactly shy about saying what does work vs. what doesn't. And Thomas, who began staffing at Marvel in the mid-1960s along with Denny O'Neil, at times jumped around on subjects as much as Gerber, though with a more tactful and suggestive approach.

So here's a brief scrapbook of those letters, sampled from the first fifty issues of Fantastic Four--little pieces of history from Marvel's Silver Age that remind us that it's possible for anyone to get in on the ground floor of their dream.


Kid said...

Hey, I've had letters published in Marvel Comics - does that mean I'm gonna freelance for them some day? Oh, I forgot - been there, done that. (Maybe next time it'll be on staff.)

Fascinating to see what future 'employees' had to say before their professional days.

Comicsfan said...

I remember a few of mine were published, as well--maybe I'll dig them out someday. It would be a kick to get a look at them after all this time.

Will said...

Hi PPoC,
I just found your blog and added it to MY blog for Blogs I follow.

I'm working on this which is remarkable similar to something you have in the works. Was wondering if by chance we could collaborate a bit?

Comicsfan said...

Hi Will--I'm sorry, but this was really a one-time post on the subject and I likely won't be following up on it. But good luck in your efforts--I'm sure there are more such letters in various comics, just waiting to be unearthed. :)